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No, Cappleman Is Not Against the Right-Turn Ban at Halsted/Broadway

Looking west at the slip lane that was closed by the addition of "No Right Turn" and "Do Not Enter" signs. Photo: John Greenfield

Yesterday 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman sent out a bulletin to constituents that included an update on the recently implemented right-turn ban from northbound Halsted to southbound Broadway in Lakeview. The Chicago Department of Transportation installed “Do Not Enter” and “No Right Turn” signs there in order to eliminate a slip lane and improve safety for pedestrians. The alderman wrote:

A number of residents and business owners have sent in letters to the 46th Ward office to protest CDOT's plan to close this lane. Ald. Cappleman supports the request of the neighbors [emphasis added] and has forwarded their complaints to CDOT. CDOT is continuing to research this area and will provide more detailed findings regarding the use and safety of this intersection within the next 2 months. Ald. Cappleman will keep residents updated on this.

From reading the message one might assume Cappleman agrees with the complainants that the slip lane should be reopened, but Matt Trewartha, the ward’s director of field services, tells me that’s not the case. “We don’t have an opinion about it per se,” he said. He said the bulletin was meant to convey the fact that Cappleman has listened to the neighbors’ complaints, adding that there have been several meetings with stakeholders to discuss the issue.

Trewartha says the office has been flooded with feedback about the change, most of it in opposition to the turn ban, some of it in support. “If CDOT can demonstrate that there’s a safety concern at that location, than the slip lane should probably remain closed. If not, and more people keep clamoring to reverse it, it may be reversed,” he said.

CDOT traffic counts conducted last fall, prior to the turn ban, found that, even during rush hours, no more than 14 drivers made the turn per hour. That was less than five percent of all northbound motorists.

Last week someone placed flowering plants in the slip lane to block illegal right turns. Photo: Justin Haugens

However, the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce has launched a petition asking the city to reverse the turn ban, arguing that it disrupts traffic in the area.

Trewartha says CDOT staffers observed traffic patterns during services last weekend at Anshe Emet Synagogue, which is adjacent to the intersection, and they plan to do counts during two Cubs games.

Trewartha added that he doesn’t know who was responsible for last week’s guerrilla street intervention at the intersection. Someone placed two planter boxes at the left side of the slip lane’s crosswalk in order to prevent drivers from making illegal left turns. Soon after I asked the chamber about the boxes, they were moved to the sidewalk.

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